The Disney Wiki

Gustaf Tenggren

40,859pages on
this wiki
Add New Page
Comments0 Share
Gustaf tenggren

Gustaf Tenggren working on art for Bambi, c. 1938.

Gustaf Tenggren (November 3, 1896 - April 9, 1970) was a Swedish children's book illustrator and inspirational sketch artist at the Disney studio from 1936 to 1939. His illustrative style, heavily influenced by the work of John Bauer and Arthur Rackham, influenced the look of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and, in particular, Pinocchio, though he received no credit for either film.

Early Life and Education (1896 - 1916)

Tenggren was born in Magra, Sweden, on November 3, 1896, and spent his childhood with his grandfather Teng, as his father had immigrated to America. Teng was a decorative painter and woodcarver, and, acting as the boy's father, taught Tenggren how to paint and carve. In 1913, Tenggren received a scholarship to study painting at the arts school of Valand in Gothenburg. This scholarship ended in 1916.

Career as an Illustrator (1917 - 1935)

Between 1917 and 1926, Tenggren illustrated Bland Tomtar och Troll (Among Elves and Trolls, an annual on Swedish folklore and fairy tales). During this time, in 1920, he moved to Cleveland. An exhibition of his work was held, and Tenggren moved to New York, where he illustrated twenty-two books between 1923 and 1939, as well as advertisements and magazine illustrations. In New York, Tenggren would meet other artists and writers in clubs on MacDougal Street, and in the resulting discussions Tenggren was seen to be very vocal yet independent. He was also said to be an alcoholic. In 1926 he married a nurse named Malin Froberg.

Disney (1936 - 1939)

Tenggren joined the Disney studio during the Deppression in 1936, when Walt Disney instructed Ted Sears to find people who could "not only think up ideas but... carry them through and sell them to the people who have to do with the completion of the thing". Another reason for Disney's interest in Tenggren's work was his interest in European illustration, which began during a holiday with Roy O. Disney and their wives to England, France, Italy, Holland and Switzerland in 1935.

At the studio, Tenggren created artwork for Snow White (working with Albert Hurter and Ferdinand Hovarth) and Pinocchio, as well as many shorts, including Little Hiawatha, The Old Mill and The Ugly Duckling. His influence is perhaps most apparent in Pinocchio (for which he contributed visual ideas for every scene), particularly in scenes of the village streets and of Gepetto's Workshop, (the inspiration for both of which he is said to have taken from the medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Bavaria. His art was also instrumental in defining the atmosphere of The Old Mill. His colleagues found him to be cooperative but anti-social, and perhaps arrogant in his skill.

His last assignment at the studio was for Bambi, for which he produced designs for highly detailed forest scenes. Each took days to paint, and were considered to have been unappropriate for use as backgrounds, and the film ultimately used the style of fellow artist Tyrus Wong. Tenngren's departure from the studio may have been the result of receiving no credit for his work on Snow White and Pinocchio, his low salary or a feeling that his talents were not being put to their best use. It was also rumoured that he had an affair with Milt Kahl's niece, who had got a summer job at the studio, and whom Tenggren had become accustomed to taking up to Yosemite (where he did many sketches for Bambi).

Return to Illustraton (1939 - 1970)

Following his departure from the Disney studio, Tenggren returned to illustration, working for Golden Books. Analsis of his work during this period has noted the influence of the "Disney Style", as well as an increasing use of phallic shapes in Tenggren's illustrations. In 1944, Tenggren and his wife (who was said to be a very forgiving and understanding woman) made a trip to Maine, in search of solitude. They made the trip again in 1945, moving to a large old house in Ebenecock Harbour, Dogfish Head, which Tenggren stated reminded him of Sweden. He continued illustrating children's books and exhibiting his work until his death in Maine on April 9, 1970.


  • John Canemaker, "Before the Animation Begins: The Life and Times of Disney inspirational Sketch Artists"

v - e - d
Walt Disney Animation Studios - Transparent Logo
In the Past

Disney's Nine Old Men: Milt Kahl | Frank Thomas | Ollie Johnston | Les Clark | John Lounsbery | Marc Davis | Ward Kimball | Eric Larson | Wolfgang Reitherman

Animators: Bill Tytla | Art Babbitt | Preston Blair | Ed Love | Fred Moore | Shamus Culhane | Cy Young | Don Lusk | Norman Ferguson | Hal King | Jack Hannah | Jack Kinney | Cliff Nordberg | Bob Carlson | Hal Ambro | Ken O'Brien | Judge Whitaker | Eric Cleworth | Harvey Toombs | Marvin Woodward | Bill Justice | Jerry Hathcock | Hugh Fraser | Clair Weeks | Don Bluth | Gary Goldman | Berny Wolf | Don Towsley | Norman Tate | John Bradbury | Lynn Karp | Charles A. Nichols | Art Palmer | Joshua Meador | Don Tobin | Robert Martsch | George Rowley | John McManus | Don Patterson | John Elliotte | Phil Duncan | George Kreisel | John Freeman | Jack Campbell | Ed Aardal | Blaine Gibson | Ken Hultgren | Fred Kopietz | George Nicholas | Bob Youngquist | John Kennedy | Henry Tanous | Dick Lucas | John Sibley | John Ewing | Walt Stanchfield | Fred Hellmich | Blaine Gibson | Julius Svendsen | Bill Keil | Andy Paliwoda
Visual Development, Layout, Background Artists and Character Designers: Gustaf Tenggren | Mary Blair | David Hall | Joe Grant | Campbell Grant | Mel Shaw | Claude Coats | Don DaGradi | John Hench | Art Riley | Eyvind Earle | Thelma Witmer | Al Dempster | Dick Anthony | Don Griffith | Ralph Hulett | Ray Huffine | Art Landy | Brice Mack | Al Zinnen | Ken O'Connor | Charles Philippi | McLaren Stewart | Tom Codrick | Hugh Hennesy | Lance Nolley | Thor Putnam | Albert Hurter | John Miller | Martin Provensen | John Walbridge | Dick Kelsey | Kay Nielsen | Terrell Stapp | John Hubley | Merle Cox | Ray Huffine | Mac Stewart | Jimi Trout | Basil Davidovich | Jack Hubler | Erni Nordli | Victor Haboush | Homer Jonas | Ray Aragon | Frank Artimage | Walt Peregoy | Bill Layne | Fil Mottola | Richard H. Thomas | Dale Barnhart | Anthony Rizzo | Sylvia Roemer
Storyboard Artists and Writers: Ted Sears | Bill Peet | Ralph Wright | Erdman Penner | Winston Hibler | Joe Rinaldi | Milt Banta | Bill Cottrell | Webb Smith | Aurelius Battaglia | Otto Englander | Joseph Sabo | Dick Huemer | Tom Oreb | Del Connell | Floyd Norman
Directors: Clyde Geronimi | Hamilton Luske | Wilfred Jackson | Bill Roberts | Jack Kinney | Ben Sharpsteen | Art Stevens | Ted Berman | Richard Rich
Producers: Walt Disney | Winston Hibler | Ron Miller | Joe Hale | Ken Anderson

In the Renaissance, the Present and the Revival

Renaissance Directors: Rob Minkoff | Roger Allers | Gary Trousdale | Kirk Wise | Chris Sanders | Mark Dindal
Story Trust Directors: Ron Clements | John Musker | Chris Buck | Byron Howard | Don Hall | Chris Williams | Rich Moore | Stephen J. Anderson | Nathan Greno | Jennifer Lee
Producers: Peter Del Vecho | Clark Spencer | Roy Conli | Dorothy McKim | Don Hahn
Executive Producers: John Lasseter
Associated Figures: Bob Iger | Roy Edward Disney | Michael Eisner | Ed Catmull | Jeffrey Katzenberg
Signature Voice Actors: Jim Cummings | Alan Tudyk | Katie Lowes | Maurice LaMarche | David Ogden Stiers | Jesse Corti | Paul Briggs | Raymond S. Persi | Phil Johnston | Frank Welker | Bill Farmer
Signature Musicians: Sherman Brothers | Robert B. Sherman | Richard Sherman | Alan Menken | Kristen Anderson-Lopez | Robert Lopez | Lin-Manuel Miranda | Howard Ashman | Tim Rice | Stephen Schwartz
Supervising Animators: Glen Keane | Andreas Deja | Randy Haycock | Alex Kupershmidt | Anthony DeRosa | Eric Goldberg | Mark Henn | John Pomeroy | T. Daniel Hofstedt | Tony Bancroft | Tom Bancroft | Tony Fucile | Russ Edmonds | Duncan Marjoribanks | Ruben Aquino | Nik Ranieri | Ron Husband | Rick Farmiloe
Visual Development & Storyboard Artists: Paul Felix | Andy Gaskill | Dean DeBlois | Lorna Cook | Bill Schwab | Lisa Keene | Claire Keane | Chen Yi-Chang | Vance Gerry | Brittney Lee | Jin Kim | Shiyoon Kim | Cory Loftis | Leo Matsuda

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.

Also on Fandom

Random Wiki